Unleashing The Power of Multi-Media Forensics in Kenya
The tussle for justice has reached a critical turning point in an era where digital crimes are soaring to unprecedented heights. The exponential growth of multimedia evidence calls for use of reliable and robust tools to uncover the truth hidden within pixels, images, videos and audio files. Multimedia forensics is still an emerging field of forensics.
In our increasingly digital world, the field of Multimedia Forensics has emerged as vital component in criminal investigations, legal proceedings and cybersecurity. As we become more reliant on technology and electronic information, understanding multimedia forensics can help restore trust in our digital ecosystem.
With cybercrime on the rise globally, identifying potential threats through multimedia forensics analysis is more important than ever before.
The effect of technology on crimes today is evident with the types and the pattern of crimes that are being committed today. With the advancement in technology, the criminals have adopted a modern approach of operating a crime that does not involve physical harm like the traditional crimes. Criminals today are very calculative and strategic to plan a crime unlike traditional crimes and hence need to change the investigation technique adopted to achieve the effective investigation of such crimes.
Currently crimes have shifted from traditional-based crimes, where there is a proper crime scene, exchange of materials which forms the basis of identification and crime investigation at large but nowadays, the criminal does not need to use any physical weapon to commit a crime.
In these cases, there is no immediate crime scenes but there will be digital fingerprints on the multimedia tool the criminal is using to commit the crime. Although, these are digital weapons, like the physical weapons, fingerprints are also left behind which forms the basis of identification in these technology-based crimes.
Around 60% of evidences includes the analysis and examination of digital evidence that include CCTV footages, audio samples, images, and metadata analysis. The future of forensic investigations in Kenya now relies on countering the so called ‘new age’ crimes with modern solutions to keep up with the fast-paced change in the nature of crimes that are being committed today.
What is multimedia forensics?
Like its name, Multimedia Forensics is the process of assembling, analyzing and reporting on digital evidence so that it can be made both legal and admissible in court. Utilizing forensics to the multimedia is an evidence-based method which is used for the revelation as well as preclusion of cybercrime or any such occurrence that involves mishandling of data.
Instead of blood spatters or deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) swabs as we are used to, multimedia forensics depends on the proof within the variety of emails, files, images, online document and digital fingerprints. Evidences from such crimes of modern age can be used to disclose the engagements and intentions of hackers in the same way as the physical evidence leads the investigators to the perpetrator in real world. However, multimedia forensics is not very simple in answering the questions like how an electronic device was used in a crime. Was the computer tool used to commit a crime? Or was the computer simply used to generate the digital landscape as a place for committing a crime? Forensics experts must then haul out the probative essentials and information from the target multimedia tool and then use this information to generate a reasonable scenario. Hence, multimedia forensics is the most fascinating field in the world of cybercrimes.
Why multimedia forensics?
Multimedia forensics and computer forensics sound superimposing or overlapping one another, but there is a very major difference of line. Computer forensics considers the use of scientific methods to extract the digital data by devices involved in criminal scenarios whereas, multimedia forensics applies scientific methods for extracting the digital fingerprints from the data and analysis of the content. Basically, in multimedia forensics whatever information is being extracted by the computer forensics experts need to be identified and analyzed, and link those data with the source. They work to establish the source of the data, how they’re being generated and how they’re being transmitted from one place to another. Their objective here is to analyze the images, texts, audios, videos so as to create a bit of coherent forensic evidence. Therefore, multimedia forensics is necessary for:
Source Identification– This aims at establishing a link between an image and its acquisition device by exploiting traces left by the different steps of the image acquisition process.
Enhancement and Restoration– Most of the footages received from CCTV footages obtained for the analysis of a particular event which had happened are usually highly degraded or have some sort of distortion. Therefore, multimedia forensics can be used to enhance and restore the images for better evaluation.
Authenticity Analysis– Multimedia forensics experts are required to determine data authenticity due to the increasing amount of doctored data which are presented as accurate or real and are later discovered to be fake. In an image they can determine whether there is any type of edition.
Interpretation and Content Analysis– Once source identification, authenticity analysis and enhancement and restoration is done, interpretation and analysis can be done properly.
Need for multimedia authentication
Data produced by multimedia can be altered maliciously for whatsoever reasons. Its scary fact that not always the digital evidences like image, audio/video recording provided for the investigation of a crime is authentic, a lot of times these evidences are subjected to various type of modifications to alter the content of the original source by the criminals to mislead an investigation. It is thus an important prerequisite procedure to verify and validate the evidences that are provided. Multimedia authentication attempts to restore trust in the data by accurately validating the data, positively or negatively. By using different approaches of multimedia authentication, one can find answers to questions such as; Does a particular data originate from its alleged source? Has it been altered or manipulated in either way? What degree of alteration/manipulation has been caused in that signal or data produced by multimedia forensics? Multimedia authentication is categorized into:
- Active Image Authentication– In this perspective, a known validation code is inserted in the image at the time of image formation or sent with the image for accessing its genuineness at the receiver end. Examination of this code confirms the originality of the image. The methodology is then sub-divided into Digital Watermarking and Digital signatures.
Watermarking is a method utilized to recognize the authentic source of a particular image or picture along with its user verification, it’s a specific code of different characters which is entrenched in a digital text files or document file, audios, videos, images or computer software program that offers the fine points to the investigating officer to observe more in relation to the images they came upon. This process is used by copyright holders to identify the individuals who tried to violate these rights. A forensic watermark is able to alert an original user in the consequence that they unintentionally receiving an illegal document or software program.
These signatures are similar to the handwritten signatures but they come out in an electronic form. These signatures encode the contents of a multimedia file or document, and consequently allowing those specific software applications discover if there is any kind of alteration or tampering done in either way. From a legal point of view, this further allows the maker show that a document existed at certain date and time.
- Passive Image Authentication– Also recognized as image forensics which requires only image itself for accessing its veracity without any secondary information for example a signature or a watermark from the sender. This authentication method is based on the theory that even if alteration in the image may not depart any visible trace but still, they’re expected to modify the primary statistics which shows that forgeries with the digital may agitate the original properties as well as quality of the picture, even if there is no any visual clue has been found. This is also sub-divided into Forgery-type dependent and Forgery-type independent.
The method is used to identify only some specific type of forgeries such and copy-paste and splicing of the image which are relented on the nature and type of forgery carried out on the image.
In these methods, the detection of forgeries in the image is independent of forgery. This method is based on pieces of evidence which are left behind due to inconsistencies in illumination or lighting condition.
Digital fingerprints are a coded form of binary digits which are created by statistical algorithms, on the basis that these digital fingerprints can be compared with equivalent to the human fingerprint. In the world of multimedia, digital fingerprints tools can be used to recognize any piece of that media files such as a video or audio clip as being original itself, complete with its own unique features. The method involves the matching of digital fingerprint of the files which has been scanned from different sites such as YouTube with that of copyrighted content to examine any kind of alteration if caused. In the process of digital fingerprinting, investigators track the illegal use of multimedia content using unique identifying information known as “fingerprints,” which are embedded in the content before distribution. YouTube uses this technology to scan files and match digital fingerprints they find with a database of copyrighted materials to determine if any intellectual property is being infringed. The more images and videos continue to flood the internet, the more difficult it becomes to protect information through forensic investigations.
Future Advancements and Challenges in Multimedia Forensics
The future of multimedia forensics is constantly evolving, with new technological advancements being made every day. One of the future developments in this field is the integration of machine learning algorithms and artificial intelligence to improve forensic analysis accuracy. However, these advancements come with their own set of challenges, as technology continues to advance, so do methods for hiding information within multimedia signals. Perpetrators are increasingly using advanced methods to tamper with video/audio/image data making it harder for forensics experts to detect manipulation for determine its source. Multimedia forensics also faces legal hurdles such as admissibility issues related to digital evidence collected from sources like social media platforms and cloud storage devices that might not be uncontested without proper custodial data protection protocols.
The other big challenge that is faced by the multimedia experts is the enhancement of poor-quality images and videos in order to identify the suspect in scene of crime. The images that are submitted for examination are often of a very low pixel size, and the CCTV footages provided from the CCTV cameras, are placed far from the scene of crime making it difficult for the Multimedia forensic experts to gauge the events of the crime. Also, positioning of the camera plays an important factor for effective surveillance, most of the time due to ineffective positioning of CCTV camera, it becomes hard for the experts to identify the culprits from the CCTV footages provided to the court of law.
Overall, Multimedia Forensics has a bright future ahead due to innovative technological advancements like machine learning but still suffers major barriers concerning privacy concerns and legalities around collecting digital evidence which needs further refinement via legislative support on an international level.
The more and more pictures, audios and videos keep on to deluge the internet for entertaining as well as educating the world at huge proportion, the more significant it becomes to safeguard it through forensic investigations. The more and more online multimedia content continues to increase, the more essential for users and creators to comprehend the legal limitations of the virtual world and how they will be secured through caution. Although cryptographic tools and access control mechanisms provide secure delivery, but this protection ends as soon as the content is delivered to the end user. Digital fingerprinting has appeared to serve these post-delivery, identifying end users who are allowed to access the unencrypted text, but use it in authorized purposes.